Artificial intelligence is 57 years old

Artificial Intelligence  (AI) as a research field was established in the summer of 1956 during a seminal workshop at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Just a year before that, Marvin Minsky, Nathaniel Rochester, Claude Shannon and John McCarthy proposed that they should hold a workshop to put together a roadmap about how to make machines think and learn similarly to humans.

The ultimate goal was to discover computational models that will enable machines to do commonsense reasoning and John McCarthy is rightly considered the father of AI.

The term “Artificial Intelligence” appeared for the first time in the proposal put forth by the previously mentioned scientists, and out of this point this new discipline, that would eventually captivate everyone’s imagination, was established.

Artificial Intelligence had a lot of ups and downs in the last 57 years. Early success, solving small problems in simulation, initiated a flurry of predictions about super-intelligent machines, taking over the world, before the coming of the 21st century.

Supported by a lack of a good understanding of how commonsense reasoning works in people and a lack of computational resources, plus the computers being very slow up until the mid-nineties, AI research stalled in the 80’s. Many people rushed to dismiss it, as nothing more than “hot air”.

Science is all about proposing and testing new theories in order to find the best ones. In this sense, since the mid-90’s, AI research has advanced by leaps and bounds. Now, we have a better understanding of how the human brain works and that has helped us to find and test better computational models for AI. These have also helped us to better understand the functions of the human brain. New techniques, such as statistical analysis, are helping intelligent agents to cope with large amounts of information and noisy sensors. Faster computers, with vast amounts of storage, are allowing us to experiment in more challenging domains and solve larger problems.

AI has not yet been able to produce a machine capable of commonsense reasoning, but by specialization, many AI systems are actually running our world today. For example, AI helps us fly aeroplanes and drive our cars, it aids doctors to perform surgery, it helps us find information in the vastness of the World Wide Web, it helps us discover spam e-mail and promptly delete it, it helps us schedule traffic lights and public transportation, it helps us analyze financial markets and make predictions about the outcome of sports events. It also aids in the surveillance of public spaces improving security and safety, it is present in the science lab, medicine development, engineering, i.e. in all spheres of our lives.

These are only a small sample of the penetration of intelligent systems in our daily lives, as the artificial intelligence is here to stay. It will not be long before we have the understanding, methods and resources to finally construct thinking and learning machines. Let us wish and hope that this technology would only be used to benefit mankind and not destroy it.

How is AI helping and interaction with education?

You can read more at:

AI in education
AI edu

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